I am back from vacation!
Monday, August 31, 2009
I am back from vacation!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Disappointment is one of those emotions we would rather not deal with. And no matter how many times we are disappointed it never gets easier.
If you hang around life very long, you will get disappointed. The church is no exception. In fact, the church can be more disappointing because you tend to have higher hopes and expectations for people.
The Local Church is the Body of Christ! But the problem is it is made up of people – and led by people – and people get it wrong sometimes. People disappoint you and let you down. Sometimes you disappoint yourself. Disappointment is a fact of life in the church so we need to learn how to go through it AND grow through it.
Obviously, we have had a disappointment this week in the church. I have been disappointed. I’m sure I have been a disappointment. So, as a pastor and a teacher of the Word I turned to it for some personal help on how to deal with disappointment and I would like to share what I found. Can I do that?
I am going to share some thoughts from Luke 24:13-32.
I think the key verse in that section is verse 21 – “but we had hoped He was the one who would redeem Israel…..”
Can you hear the disappointment in that statement? I can. And it is a revealing insight into the nature of disappointment. DISAPPOINTMENT IS WHERE HOPE COLLIDES WITH REALITY!
That can actually be a healthy time because it can help us get a better grip on hope and a new understanding of what is real.
Let me show you how these guys dealt with disappointment.
THEY TOOK A WALK, V. 13
"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem."
When you get disappointed it is helpful to get some distance from the situation and retreat to a safe place. These guys had been in Jerusalem for the Passover when Jesus was crucified. They were now bewildered believers trying to sort out everything that had happened. So, they headed home.
When you are confused and disappointed and not sure what to think or do, head back to what you DO know. Surround yourself with those you trust. Don’t project the disappointment you have with one person onto everyone.
Probably THE best thing you could have done today was to come here. There is safety here. There is familiarity here. There is love here and healing here.
HAVE A TALK, V. 14
"They were talking with each other about everything that had happened."
When you are feeling the sting of disappointment the best thing you can do is talk with the right person in order to sort out your emotions. The worst think you can do is talk to the wrong people.
As this was developing I was thankful to have the friendship and wisdom of some of our key leaders, and my very wise and capable wife. Talking with them was a life-saver for me!
I want to commend our leaders for how they have handled this situation this week. When Tim resigned and it became apparent that he wasn’t going to change his mind, I accepted his resignation and informed the Leadership Team and a few other key people who needed to know. Out of love for Tim and the church they managed that information properly. They kept to themselves. They didn’t gossip. They prayed, they wept, and they supported me.
That allowed us to have this talk this morning in this setting.
I will be happy to talk to any of you who need more information.
LOOK FOR JESUS, Vv, 15-16
Because these men were on the right path talking about the right stuff, they were at a place where Jesus could join them! When Jesus shows up, things get better!
But, if we don’t handle disappointment properly and if we cop an attitude and get overcome by emotion and talk to the wrong people it makes it hard for Jesus to show up.
I am so thankful that our core leaders didn’t do that so that God can show up here this morning.
Norma Jean Mortenson was a young girl who spent much of her childhood in foster homes. She was very familiar with disappointment. When she was 8 years old, she was physically abused and given a nickel not to tell anyone.
Went Norma Jean tried to tell her foster mother about the man who had abused her she was spanked and told never to tell anyone because he was the guy who paid their rent.
She grew into a very pretty girl and then a beautiful young woman. People began to take notice, especially men. They would whistle at her and flirt with her. While she liked the attention, she wished they would get to know her as a person and like for who she really was.
Eventually she was discovered and moved to Hollywood. She was given the name Marilyn Monroe with the promise that she would be turned into an American sex symbol. It worked and she became an overnight success. But she still longed to be loved and recognized as Norma Jean, the person that she was.
She went through three marriages pleading for someone to love her as a person and not as a star or an object. At the age of 35, on a Saturday night, Marilyn Monroe took her own life. Her maid found her the next morning on her bed with the telephone hanging off the receiver.
One of her biographers wrote that the dangling telephone was a symbol of Norma Jean’s life. She died because she never got through to anyone who understood.
How sad to move from disappointment to disappointment and never find Jesus.
In the midst of your disappointment, look for Jesus, He will be there and He will NEVER disappoint you!
REGAIN PERSPECTIVE, Vv. 17-32
"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
Maybe the greatest blessing of walking with Jesus is getting to talk with Jesus – and more importantly listen.
The weird thing about this whole dynamic is that we see these guys talking TO Jesus about their disappointment ABOUT Jesus. As it turns out He was would they thought He was.
DISAPPOINTMENT IS WHERE HOPE COLLIDES WITH REALITY.
That can be a bad thing. Sometimes disappointment can turn into disillusionment. Has anyone ever been disillusioned?
When any of us invest too much hope in any person or leader, we are bound for disappointment.
If I haven’t already, I will disappoint you.
This is where the story gets good. As they shared their disappointment about Jesus to Jesus and as they walked with Him and talked with Him and learned from Him their perspective changed! Their hope returned. They realized that they had actually UNDER estimated Who Jesus was!
Jesus was more than they hoped! He was more real than they had imagined!
How many things in life turn out to be better than you expect? It is a short list – and Jesus is at the top of it!
I know there are a lot of disappointed people here this morning. I am one of them. Someone we invested our hopes in has disappointed us. That’s life! It happens! It will happen again!
That is why we need to learn to deal with disappointment:
TAKE A WALK
LOOK FOR JESUS
Let’s deal with this disappointment. Let’s stay united and keep on loving each other. Let’s reach lost people. Let’s let God grow a great church.
Let’s be like the stubborn old mule:
A farmer owned an old mule. He was kind of sway backed and not much good for anything. But he WAS stubborn. Since the old mule didn’t see very well any more he fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the awful racket from the mule’s braying and came to see where he was. When he found the old fella down in the well, he decided it wasn’t worth the time, money or effort to hoist him out and the well was dry, so he decided just to order a load of dirt and fill in the well and bury the mule. He called His neighbors together and told them what happened and what he was planning and enlisted their help haul dirt to bury the mule. But the only trouble was they underestimated how stubborn that mule was.
Well, they shoveled in the first load of dirt and it hit him on the back her reacted out of his stubbornness and thought, “SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP!” He did. And he did it with the second load, and the third load, and the fourth load, and all the loads until the well had been filled to the top and he walked away from the well! Once on top, he “SHOOK IT OFF AND STEPPED UP!”
WHEN WE LEARN TO SHAKE OFF DISAPPOINTMENT, THE VERY THINGS THAT MIGHT BURY US, CAN END UP BEING WHAT LIFTS US TO JESUS!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
During my first two years of high school I went to a tiny school in a rural town. We had 97 kids ninth grade through 12th grade, the smallest school in the county. Therefore, in the all important world of high school basketball, we were at a disadvantage by virtue of our smaller pool of available guys to choose from. There were many seasons that the Claypool Knights served as the doormats of the county. When people looked at their schedule and saw us they counted and automatic "w".
Thankfully, something changed. A new coach came to town with a new philosophy. He was a onditioning freak. His idea was that we have no control over how many players we have to choose from but we can control how good of condition we are in. If we can be in better condition than the team we are playing then about the time they are wearing down we can be winding up. So, his practices were grueling. In order to even go out for basketball you had to run cross country. And then to make the team you had to make the team you had to survive the first week of extreme conditioning. They call them "suicides" for a reason. We endured the pain of those practices for the promise of something we had little experience with - winning. Many times we would wonder if all the burning lungs, the cramping legs, and the morning after soreness was worth it.
Guess what? During the season, that conditioning began to translate into close games. Then those close games began to turn into some victories because in the late third quarter and into the fourth quarter when the other team was wearing down, we were just beginning to sweat! Before too long, there was a confidence that began to emerge. We knew if we could hang with the opponent into the third quarter, we would wear them down! That season we won as many as we lost! Given our losing tradition - that was huge!
Beginning the following season we ran into the first of three consecutive classes that actually had some athletes. Given the improvement in talent and the commitment to conditioning, the pain turned into gain! That was the first of three straight County Championships. After that third championship season our school got swallowed up in a school consolidation. Had that not happened we would have likely won two more championships.
What does this have to do with suffering? We suffered through those agonizing practices because we had out hopes set on winning. Monday through Thursday wind sprints turned into Friday and Saturday wins.
That is what Paul is talking about in this verse. Having the hope of a better future gives you strength to endure the momentary suffering.
Did you ever suffer for years with a high mileage beater of a car because you had the hope of saving up and trading it in for a brand new Cadillac some day? When you got a little impatient or discouraged with that old junker you would drive by the dealership and see that shiny beauty sitting in the showroom. You would say to yourself, "Someday! Someday I'll trade this in for that!"
If you can relate to that experience you have what it takes to endure though painful periods of suffering. You walk through that trial or you put up with that pain knowing that someday you will get to trade in this aching body for an eternal one.
That is exactly what Jesus did, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
Are you suffering through a difficult trial? Are you a prisoner to pain? Has you misery index hit an all time high? Fix your eyes on Jesus Who understands suffering and can give you strength and courage. Fix your eyes on Jesus Who suffered so you can live in relationship with God and never suffer alone. Put your confidence in Jesus to lead you through temporary pain into eternal gain!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
What are you to believe when God subtracts from your comfort rather than adding to it?
Will you factor in God's goodness and love when the math doesn't seem to work?
Can you trust your problem to be His solution?
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
"What's wrong, officer," the driver asked. "I didn't go through any red lights, and I certainly wasn't speeding."
"No, you weren't," said the officer, "but I saw you waving your fist as you swerved around the lady driving in the left lane, and I further observed your flushed and angry face as you shouted at the driver of the Hummer who cut you off, and how you pounded your steering wheel when the traffic came to a stop near the bridge."
"Is that a crime, officer?"
"No, but when I saw the ‘Jesus loves you and so do I’ bumper sticker on the car, I figured this car had to be stolen."
Ouch that hurts! It is never fun to get caught being a hypocrite.
A priest was coming back to his rectory one evening in the dark when he was accosted by a robber who pulled a gun on him and demanded, "Your money or your life!"
As the priest reached his hand into his coat pocket, the robber saw his Roman collar and said: "I see you're a priest. Never mind, you can go."
The priest, surprised at this unexpected show of piety, tried to reciprocate by offering the robber a candy bar that he remembered was in his pocket.
The robber replied, "No thank you, Father. I don't eat candy during Lent."
What are we talking about? We are talking about hypocrisy. One of the most commonly leveled objections to the Christian faith is that “All Christians Are Hypocrites” Gross generalizations like “Christians are all hypocrites” are rarely true. In this case, it is very close. As long as there has been faith there has been hypocrisy. That doesn’t make it right, but it makes it real – and a real problem.
Today I want to confront this ugly issue of hypocrisy. I want to show what causes it, why it is so harmful, and what can be done about it.
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 23.
THE HEART OF HYPOCRISY, Vv. 1-10
A man, returning from a business trip, was met at the airport by his wife. They walked from the gate together and were standing waiting for the baggage to be unloaded. An extremely attractive stewardess walked by. Suddenly, the man came to life. Beaming, he said to the stewardess, "I hope we can fly together again, Miss Jones." His wife asked, "How come you knew the name of that stewardess?" The man replied smoothly, "Well dear, her name was posted up front in the plane, right under the names of the pilot and co-pilot." To which the wife replied, "Okay, so what were the names of the pilot and co-pilot?" BUSTED! The man’s hypocrisy was uncovered.
Hypocrisy can be illustrated by the way we clean house when company is coming - We shove our junk in the closet, stuff it under the bed, etc. where it can’t be seen. Out of sight it doesn’t exist at least to our guests. That is not a horrible way to clean house, but it is terrible way to deal with the spiritual junk in our lives. There is no value to hide our junk from people if God sees it. He is the
one we are to please.
Hypocrisy results from trying to hide our junk and keep it out of view so people won’t think we have junk. But bad things happen when we do that. First, we hide our junk from ourselves and don’t deal with it. Secondly, we have to keep people away from our junk room out of fear of being discovered. That can be a little hard on true relationships. Worst of all, we have to try to keep Jesus from our junk room because of all people, we don’t want Him to see our junk. So, we live guarded lives, never fully honest with ourselves or with others and not fully committed to God.
In these first 10 verses, Jesus points out the hypocrisy of the Religious Leaders of that day. In verse 5 He puts His finger on the heart of the problem, “Everything they do is done for men to see…”
The heart of hypocrisy is the desire to look good and be regarded as good without doing the hard work of becoming good. It is even worse than that because it takes what is supposed to bring glory to God and using it to glorify yourself.
“Hypocrisy” comes from a Greek word “hypokrisis” that referred to an actor playing a part. An actor pretends to be one thing when he is actually another. In the ancient theater the actors often played several characters each, so they would use masks. Whenever they needed to change characters they changed masks.
Are you wearing a mask today? What are you trying to hide?
Do you have a junk room in your heart? Is there some junk that you are hiding from God?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions you are guilty of hypocrisy and it is only a matter of time until you are exposed.
THE HARM OF HYPOCRISY, Vv. 13-38
Some of the harshest words that Jesus ever spoke were directed at the professional religious leaders. In this portion of Scripture we see Him condemning them:
Seven Times He Calls Them Hypocrites
Two Times He Calls Them Fools
Five Times He Calls Them Blind Guides
He Even Called Them A Bunch of Snakes
John Stott said this about hypocrisy: “Hypocrisy is hideous. What cancer is to the body, hypocrisy is to the church. It is a killing agent. Unfortunately, hypocrisy is also addictive. And even though Jesus reserved His most severe words of condemnation for the hypocrite, we still seem to prefer that lifestyle to truth and authenticity.”
Hypocrisy will seriously harm the witness of a local church.
Hypocrisy wears down the workers in a church.
What a deal there is of going to meetings and getting blessed, and then going away and living just the same, until sometimes we, who are constantly engaged in trying to bring people nearer the heart of God, go away so discouraged that our hearts are almost broken. - Catherine Booth. "
Hypocrisy harms the worship in a church.
Hypocrisy harms the fellowship in a church.
Mark Twain once said, “A cat that sits on a hot stove would sit on a hot stove again. But neither will he sit on a cold one.” Once you get burned by hypocrisy, you will have a hard time being vulnerable within fellowship.
Hypocrisy harms the mission of the church. We are supposed to make it easier for people to believe in God, not harder. Which is true of your life?
THE HOPE FOR HYPOCRITES, Vv. 11-12, 25-28
"Luke warmness toward God is hypocrisy at its worst. If I truly believe He’s supreme, I must treat Him as such I must"
True Faith - Matthew 15:8, Jesus said, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’
In the chapter previous to this, Jesus had told the religious leaders that they should love God with all their heart and all their soul and all their mind……
Jesus says if you want to overcome hypocrisy, get your heart right!
And then He points to the evidence of a heart that is right – Vv. 11-12 – Humble Service.
True Focus – In Verses 25-28, Jesus tells us that we should focus on the inner man not the outer man……….
True Fruit – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25
You don’t have to fake it! You don’t have to be a phony. You can be free from hypocrisy. By the way, I want you to know that there is a difference between being a hypocrite and being inconsistent. Even when we are Spirit-filled and walking in obedience, our human weaknesses can cause us to be inconsistent. But we are not acting or pretending to be something we are not.
Do you have a junk room in your heart? Are you hiding some junk that you don’t want anyone to know about? Do you ever feel that if anyone found out the truth about you, you'd be finished? Do you go through life basically trying to convince others that you are something you're not—that you're cool when you know you're not, that you're confident or skillful or good-hearted when you know it's not so?
It began with mere barroom bravado; years later it got out of control. Werner "Jack" Genot wanted to be a hero. So, he concocted a story about serving with the Marines and being taken as a prisoner of war during a bloody Korean War battle.
Genot, now 71, is from the small Illinois town of Marengo, where he serves as an alderman. His story grew until the uniform he wore on special occasions became laden with fake medals he had ordered from a catalogue—a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts. He would march in parades and talk to schoolchildren. He even got a special license plate reserved for wounded veterans by forging discharge papers.
However, a veteran's league eventually noticed a lack of records on file and numerous factual holes in Genot's military record. It began investigating his claims. For two years, Genot denied the accusations and excused his way around the questions. But he finally confessed his deception in an interview with a local newspaper, claiming that he couldn't stand the façade any longer.
"You can't imagine what I'm going through," he said. "I really didn't know how to shake this demon. But I went to bed with it every night, and I looked at it in the mirror every morning. I don't want to meet my Maker with this on my heart."
Why not come clean on that junk? Why not let God into that room and give Him your junk.
If you have been disillusioned by hypocrisy – look past men to see Christ.
If you struggle with your own tendency to hypocrisy – look past men to see Christ.
Friday, August 14, 2009
"Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:34-40
This is an amazing encounter between a man who was trying to look good and a Man Who WAS good. This Pharisee soon discovered he was out of his league. His lame question which was intended to trap Jesus allowed Jesus to turn the spotlight on their hypocrisy.
The Pharisess had taken the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses and had expanded them to 632 rules and regulations. Now, thanks to them, instead of being guilty of breaking 10 rules they could be guilty of breaking them by the hundreds. Hypocrisy was elevated to a whole new level.
Jesus got to the very heart of the hypocrisy problem which is, well........the heart. He says the solution to hypocrisy is to fully engage the heart and the mind.
Loving God with all your heart and all your mind solves the basic issues that lead to hypocrisy - double-mindedness and a divided heart. And when you love God with all your heart He will give you love for others. When you love others with a godly love you don't feel pressure to impress them.
Believing that they could keep ALL the commandments led to the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. Jesus was trying to simplify it for them. They only had to focus on two things - one thing, really. Just love God with all your heart and live in that relationship and He will do the rest. He will be your righteousness. He will love through you. His Spirit will lead you in truth.
Jesus has the cure for hypocrisy. Jesus IS the cure for hypocrisy. He will cure you from religion and bring you into relationship.
Are you tired of trying to impress God? Worn out by being religious? Exhausted by trying to achieve self-righteousness? Stop lying to yourself and start loving God. It is not about anything you can do - its about what He has done!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Hell is a subject that offends some people and makes others uncomfortable. What do we tend to do when we are uncomfortable with something? We laugh at it, right?
If someone challenges you with “A Loving God Wouldn’t Send People to Hell”, take heart! It indicates that they have embraced two crucial truths: they believe God is loving and they believe in hell!
A poll done by The Minneapolis Star Tribune a few years ago found that 65% of the people in Minnesota believed in hell. That is a pretty high number. Only 15%, however, said they knew someone who would be a sure bet to go there, and only 3% felt that they themselves deserved to end up in hell. In other words, most folks accept hell as a reality, they just don’t see it as a danger.
So, should we see Hell as a danger? Would a loving God really send people to hell?”
To answer this question you need to understand God’s love and you need to understand hell. Let me see if I can help.
GOD’S LOVE IS REAL
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:1-9
Two Sides of God’s Love: MERCY < > JUSTICE
Our text today tells us that God’s love is real because He chose to extend mercy to us when we deserved justice. His choice to extend mercy made it possible for each of us to choose mercy and avoid the justice that would send us to HELL.
Because God is holy He demands justice for sin. But because He is a loving Father, He desires to show mercy toward those who sin. How can a holy God have a relationship with a fallen person? He can’t compromise His holiness but love needs an object so it can be expressed. What is the answer? Jesus was the answer! He was God in the flesh of a man. Born of a virgin so He could be sinless and living in the Spirit so He could remain sinless. That allowed Him to take on the sins of the world and provide us a way to deal with our sin and have access to the Father.
A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. "But I don’t ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy." "But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied. "Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for." "Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman’s son.
God’s love is real. He desires to be merciful but will execute justice when His holiness demands it. God would have been overjoyed if Hell had ended up vacant.
HELL IS REAL
Peter Marshall, the great 20th Century preacher once said, “Proof that hell is real is that Jesus came to earth to save us from it.”
Bill Hybels described what Hell might feel like: “The bottomless pit…conjures up dreamlike feelings of falling away -- falling, falling, falling. You’ve all had dreams like that; where when you woke your heart was beating because you were falling. Picture in your mind hanging over a precipice --- and God is hanging onto you --- and you’re hanging onto him. “And you decide you don’t need him anymore. So you let go. But the moment you let go you know you made a mistake. You’re falling, and every moment you fall further and further away from the only source of help and truth and love --- and you realize you made a mistake and you can’t get back up --- and you fall further and faster and further and faster into spiritual oblivion --- and you know you’re going the wrong direction --- and you’d give anything to go back, but you can’t. And you fall, and you fall, and you fall, and you fall … “How long? Forever. And all the while you’re falling you’re saying, ‘I’m further now; I’m further. I’m further from the only source of hope, truth, and love.’ “In hell there is never the bliss of annihilation. You’d give anything for annihilation, but it’s unavailable --- only the conscious continuation of emotional anguish, physical anguish, relational anguish, and spiritual anguish … forever.”
"Cardiologist Dr. Rawlings, a devout atheist, "considered all religion ’hocus-pocus’ and death nothing more than a painless extinction." But something happened in 1977 that brought a dramatic change in the life of Dr. Rawlings! He was resuscitating a man, terrified and screaming. "Each time he regained heartbeat and respiration, the patient screamed, ’I am in hell!’ He was terrified and pleaded with me to help him. I was scared to death...Then I noticed a genuinely alarmed look on his face. He had a terrified look, worse than the expression seen in death! This patient had a grotesque grimace expressing sheer horror! His pupils were dilated, and he was perspiring and trembling--he looked as if his hair was ’on end.’ Then still another strange thing happened. He said, ’Don’t you understand? I am in hell...Don’t let me go back to hell!’...the man was serious, and it finally occurred to me that he was indeed in trouble. He was in a panic like I had never seen before." Dr. Rawlings said no one who could have heard his screams and saw the look of terror on his face could doubt for a single minute that he was actually in a place called hell! Dr. Rawlings concludes, "Just listening to these patients has changed my life. There is a life after death, and if I don’t know where I’m going, it is not safe to die."
God knows that Hell is real and He has done everything that He can do to keep people from going there.
Jesus knows Hell is real because the Bible indicates that He went there after He died for the sins of the world.
It may or may not surprise you to know that the person in the bible who spoke the most often (and in the most graphic terms) about hell, was not one of the fiery Old-Testament prophets, or John the author of Revelation, but Jesus himself. 12 times in the gospels Jesus talks in explicit terms about hell. (More than any other single Bible person).
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46
I have shared several rather convincing pieces of evidence to show the terrible reality of Hell. You don’t want to go there! You shouldn’t want anyone to go there! You must do everything in your power to make sure you don’t go there or anyone that you care about.
CHOOSE GOD’S MERCY AVOID HIS JUSTICE
Ted Turner, founder of Turner Broadcasting (TBS,TNT,CNN) blasted the Christian faith at a speech to the National Press Club. "Remember, heaven is going to be perfect. And I don’t really want to be there... Those of us that go to hell, which will be most of us in this room, most journalists are certainly going there... (Laughter). but, when we get there we’ll have a chance to make things better because hell is supposed to be a mess. And heaven is perfect. Who want to go to a place that is perfect? Boring, boring." (Laughter). Also in late 1989, Turner told Dallas Morning News "Christianity is a religion for losers." Christ died on the cross, but Mr. Turner said He shouldn’t have bothered. "I don’t want anybody dying for me. I’ve had a few drinks and a few girlfriends and if that’s gonna put me in hell, then so be it."
I guess he prefers justice over mercy.
I have been with Christians when they died and I once stood by the bed-side of a man who knew he was dying and refused mercy. Trust me, there is a world of difference!
I want you to imagine that you have a friend who is standing on the edge of what looks like a swimming pool on a blistering hot August day. You happen along on the way to your swimming pool and see your friend getting ready to dive into that pool. You know that the pool he is about to dive into is filled with sulfuric acid. He is crouched and ready to lunge. He is mere seconds away from a horrible death.
What would you do?
You could say, “Wait! I’ll join you!”
You could say, that’s not my problem!
You could say, what a stupid thing to do! If he jumps in there he deserves it!
You could say, I sure am glad I have a safe pool to swim in!
You should say – NO! STOP!
I’m sure that is what you would do!
So why are you not pointing people who you know are standing on the road to Hell away from the justice of God and toward His mercy?
Would A Loving God Send People To Hell?
No – HE SAID, “STOP! TAKE MY MERCY!”The Bigger Question This Morning Is – Will You Let People You Love Go To Hell?